Holiday Decorating with Lance Thomas

A Louisiana designer reveals his top design tricks.

  • Category
    Design 101, Interiors
  • Written by
    Jennie Nunn
  • Photos courtesy of
    Thomas Guy Interiors
  • Above
    Holiday decorating ideas from Lance Thomas of Thomas Guy Interiors

“Holiday decorating, in my opinion, should always feel like an extension of your current decor,” says Lance Thomas, co-owner and principal designer of Thomas Guy Interiors in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“Being from Southern Louisiana, I like to use the local greenery and fauna. There is an abundance of magnolia and it dries very fresh-looking. So, I’ll use it for my place cards and centerpieces, and it will last all season.”

Above: Interior designer Lance Thomas | Photo by Haylei Smith

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From table design and place cards to full-blown holiday decor, Thomas—who previously worked as a holiday designer before launching his career in interior design—shares his top 10 décor ideas with SHLTR with quick and easy design inspiration from your own closet or backyard.

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Dress The Table

“Magnolia leaf place cards are my go-to,” says Thomas. “I write the names of the guests on the green side of the leaf with a gold sharpie. Then, I cut a one-inch slit up the middle of the leaf perpendicular to the middle stem. Then I simply slide the leaf onto the 3 o’clock edge of the dinner plate so it appears to be in mid-fall on the table.”

Above: A table setting by Lance Thomas

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Go With A Theme

“Tablescaping is my favorite design tradition,” says Thomas. “I would decorate my parent’s house every year in a different theme. Neighbors and family friends would always comment on my tablescapes and began hiring me to do theirs.”

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Don’t Forget The Stairs

“You’ll need 4-inch wide red-and-white ribbon,” says Thomas. “A very simple yet effective way to amp up your stairway is to wrap each spindle in solid red-and-white ribbon for a dramatic alternating stripe effect up the stairwell. Finish off the look with a tailored garland trimming out the handrail. I prefer a garland that hugs the line of the handrail rather than swooping garland. It feels a bit cleaner to me.”

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Examine Your Palette

“Even if your home isn’t decorated in red and green year-round you can still incorporate a traditional red-and-green story into your holiday,” explains Thomas. “Here’s how: Look at your space and extract the colors you are using day-to-day. Ask yourself, ‘Am I using jewel-tones, earthy colors, neutral colors, or coastal colors?’ Simply match your Christmas color palette to your everyday palette in shade and intensity of color. An earthy palette is begging for more rusty reds and olive greens, while a jewel-toned palette is primed for ruby reds and emerald greens.”

Above: Thomas advises on using colors that complement your current décor.

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Rummage Through Your Closet

“The most overlooked materials for holiday decorating can be found in your closet,” explains Thomas. “I have been known to use wool scarves, faux fur blankets, and cable knit sweaters instead of tree skirts or table runners.”

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Create The Scene (and Scent)

“I can’t do without holiday candles,” shares Thomas. “Holiday decorating that captures all of the senses, smell included, is the most impactful and memorable. My all-time favorite candle is Zodax Siberian Fir.”

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Think Unexpected Spaces

“Guest bedrooms make for a fun opportunity, especially if you know guests may be spending a weekend with you,” says Thomas. “The surprise and look on their faces when they open the guest bedroom door and it is decked out in a magical holiday scheme is priceless.”

Above: A guest bedroom with holiday décor by Lance Thomas

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Look In The Backyard and Beyond

“Tree branches, fallen magnolia leaves, and various evergreen foliage make for fantastic arrangements and filler material to bring the winter outdoors in,” says Thomas. “And, local antique shops are a great place to source vintage dishware, candlesticks, and even ornaments to incorporate the nostalgic quality of Christmas into your decor story.”

Above: A Christmas tree and holiday décor by Lance Thomas

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Keep It Local

“My number one rule for sourcing is to keep it local,” says Thomas. “Doing business locally not only incorporates the element of the community into your design but supports those that need it most.”

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Create A Decorating Playlist

“Thievery Corporation, Glass animals, Moby are a few of my favorites,” says Thomas.

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